July 24, 2005
A METALLICA lover, Johnson was introduced to Hetfield during the band's 1997 Reload tour. "Randy was a regular, cool guy despite being eight feet tall," says Hetfield, 41, of the 6'10" Johnson. They became close and often attend each other's concerts or games. When the headbanger ruptured a disk in his neck in 2002, Johnson hooked him up with a neck specialist. Says Hetfield, "I have maybe four friends. Randy is one of those guys I can talk to.... He listens. He doesn't blow me off."
BOTH BASED in the Atlanta area, they have been fiercely competitive since shortly after they met, in 1997, when Foxworthy beat Smoltz at bowling and made him sign the scorecard. They battle in Wiffle ball and Nintendo. "I have fantasies of being a ballplayer. He wants to be a comic," says Foxworthy, 46, who's the godfather of Smoltz's daughter. "He's always working on stuff. He's like, 'Fox, what do you think about this?' and they're just awful jokes."
A HUGE sports fan, Lachey first connected with Graves, then the Reds' closer, at a 1999 party in Cincinnati hosted by Lachey's former band, 98 Degrees. In 2002 Graves attended Lachey's wedding to Jessica Simpson, and last year Lachey took batting practice with the Reds in L.A.--before he and Graves went clubbing. The two talk weekly during the season. "I never know where he is," says Graves. "He travels more than I do." --Sarah Thurmond